A major D.C.-area landlord’s comparison of Arlington’s Crystal City to New York’s Brooklyn spurred a debate on social media over the suburban spot’s hipness and swankiness.
The social media back-and-forth started following this comment in a New York Times story on the rebirth of Crystal City from Mitchell N. Schear, president of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, which is the mega property owner in the neighborhood.
“Think Brooklyn and Manhattan. You’re close enough, but you’re not paying higher taxes and utilities. Here, we are a slightly geekier crowd, and we are embracing it.”
But saying it’s similar to Brooklyn? Uh, wait, no, said some on Twitter. It isn’t quite as hip or cool, although it has gotten shoutouts for making a comeback and attracting new companies and new people. Schear, who was born in Brooklyn, elaborated a bit on the comparison he drew between Crystal City and Brooklyn.
“Think of the island of Manhattan,” he said. “It is bounded by water, space constrained. You can cross the Brooklyn Bridge and you’re in a borough that has become an exciting place for people to live, work and hang out.”
And so what does that have to do with Crystal City?
“The thesis,” Schear said, is that “Brooklyn is now right up there with Manhattan in being cool.”
And in Washington, well, technically in Arlington, he said from his Crystal City office, “I’m sitting here, looking across the river and you get great value and you have the ability to get startups, cool restaurants and people who are interested in being close.”
“We aspire to be the Brooklyn of Manhattan,” Schear said.
Here’s what some had to say on the Crystal City-is-like-Brooklyn comparison:
Crystal City is perhaps best known for its underground shops and bland-colored office and apartment buildings that were in their heydays in the 1960s and 1970s. But as shopping and living trends have changed and a glut of vacant space came onto the market as many of Crystal City’s government-related tenants left, Crystal City has been trying to remake itself. It’s had some success, say promoters and developers, in luring new restaurants, tech businesses and apartments.
Crystal City promoter Angela Fox, the president and chief executive of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, told the Times that the changes to Crystal City have prompted this response from new residents:
“Now I hear millennials and people of all ages saying Crystal City is so cool.”
Not quite, say some commenters on social media.
If Crystal City isn’t the D.C. area’s Brooklyn, which neighborhood is?
It isn’t the first time comparisons have been made to Brooklyn. According to Washingtonian, an ad in The Washington Post back in the late 1880s touted “Rosslyn City” as the “Brooklyn of Washington.”
Brooklyn has gone through its own transformation over decades. It went from being a working-class borough to a hip, gentrified outpost of people priced out of Manhattan.
And don’t get too bogged down on comparisons, some on social media said. Crystal City has some attractions worth noting:
What do you think: